Straight out of Texas, former home of the now defunct At the Drive-In, comes a band that may very well rival them in energy, and that’s no easy task to claim.
America Is Waiting are a refreshing post-punk blend of At the Drive-In and the Jesus Lizard, with all the pounding discordance and wailing vocals that you could hope for. The driving rhythms and tight, snapping drum beats give the music a very unstable feeling, as singer Michael Rignio howls his way through eight tracks full of jarring, nonstop energy. Even in some of the lower key stretches, there’s always something fervent brewing just below the surface, waiting to combust. All it takes is one riff, one snare roll, and the four-piece explodes into a ball of energy, the likes of which few bands can match.
I think most impressive about this band is how each member is given ample time to contribute, it’s not a case of the bassist or one of the guitarists being completely drowned out, as can so often happen. The bass is thick and present, and Rignio and guitarist Ryan Singley work off each other a good deal to create those volatile rhythms, and just the thick wall of music the entire band is putting forth. At first listen, I wasn’t sold on the vocals; I thought they were a bit undersold as far as the rest of the band was concerned, and simply got lost among everything else going on, but after repeated listens it becomes apparent that that’s simply not the case.
In fact, the vocals are the single strongest element of the entire album.
Diverse and hitting all the right spots, the frantic vocal style is the centerpiece of every track. The jagged riffs of “Nothing Justifies’’ is exactly the kind of playing that lends itself perfectly to Rignios voice. The cascading rhythms start and stop in quick but powerful bursts, with strong bass and drum work to really link everything together. “The Virus Is Airborne” shows a band who is also plenty comfortable playing at a much less hectic style, with slower, more drawn out chord progressions, slow methodical drum rolls, and singing that sounds almost whispered, but is still loud enough to be clearly distinguished. It’s a departure from the rest of the band, but one that makes the flow from track to track even better, rather than disturbing what’s so far been done.
Full of energy and dissonance, these eight tracks all demonstrate that America Is Waiting know how to write a terrific song; I just hope the rest of you are listening.